Arlington student who uses art to honor God is among the winners in MCA National Christmas Artwork Contest
ARLINGTON — Kaylie Nguyen, who graduated earlier this year from St. Joseph Catholic School in Arlington, is a 2022 winner of the Missionary Childhood Association’s National Christmas Artwork Contest.
Kaylie was one of 24 winners honored at a recognition program Dec. 2 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
The Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) is a worldwide organization for Catholic youth to promote awareness of sharing the Gospel with others.
Kaylie and her family traveled to the nation’s capital for the ceremony.
“I think it’s an honor to win and a privilege to be invited to D.C. and go to the biggest church in North America,” Kaylie said.
The basilica was decorated for Christmas, and Kaylie heard a choir singing when she and her family arrived. One of the most powerful moments for her was to see artwork depicting a Vietnamese Mary. The basilica shows representations of Mary from many different nationalities and ethnicities to honor the Mother of God and as a reflection of the rich heritage of America.
After the award ceremony, recipients and their families attended Mass and had lunch with priests from the basilica.
In his homily, the priest talked about Advent and how the children could help others prepare for Christmas and share the Gospel with their artwork, Kaylie said.
It is an experience she will always remember.
Artwork that honors God
Drawn with alcohol markers and gold paint, Kaylie’s drawing of Mary holding baby Jesus depicts Mary looking toward heaven.
“I chose to show Mary looking up to show she was seeking guidance from God to raise Jesus, and she has Jesus in her arms for comfort and care,” she said.
The background in dynamic blues and purples was to indicate majesty while the gold shows Mary is sacred and holy, the young artist said.
She decided to enter the contest last fall after hearing about it in religion class from Sister Theresa Mai, OP.
Sr. Theresa said that she talks about the contest to students as a way for them to learn about missions and to use their art in a way that honors God.
“They’re expressing their love for God and helping spread His love by their artwork,” she said.
She hasn’t had a lot of students enter the contest in the past, but Kaylie’s example could change that.
“Kaylie is a very talented student and very careful in selecting her colors,” Sr. Theresa said. “This is precious and for the King. All the colors have meaning and show her love for Jesus.”
Sr. Theresa said that children can connect their art to God and experience God’s creative power working in them when their art honors Him. What they create can encourage others to love God, too.
Kaylie said, “I hope I can inspire other kids to participate in the contest and use their artwork to honor God.”
Connecting to the ultimate Creator
Now a freshman at Martin High School in Arlington, Kaylie attended St. Joseph Catholic School from Pre-K through 8th grade.
The MCA contest isn’t her first award-winning art. Last year at St. Joseph’s, she won a contest voted on by her classmates to design a knight for a class banner and t-shirt.
She’s always loved art and taught herself various techniques over the years.
“It’s so calming and peaceful,” she said.
Her dad, Michael Nguyen, said that Kaylie has been drawing since she was little and would spend whole weekends working on a project.
He said that Kaylie winning a national award was an unexpected surprise to him and his wife, Tammy, and they decided to take the family trip to Washington, D.C., and New York City as a special vacation.
“We’re just so happy for her,” he said. “It’s such an honor.”
Kaylie is considering a career as a medical doctor but expects to continue creating art as a great way to reduce stress.
“I like how it’s peaceful and expresses my creativity,” she said. “Whenever I feel stressed out, I like using art to relieve it.”
When she is creating art, she also feels a connection to the ultimate Creator.
“It’s a way to express dedication and a God-given talent,” she said.
Entries for this year's contest are being accepted through January 31, 2021. For an entry form, visit: fwdioc.org/mca-national-christmas-artwork-contest.